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View of Chandigarh city
Chandigarh in India

Egypt’s new wonder

Six cities built from scratch

Egypt’s new wonder

The construction of a new Cairo is doubtless one of the world’s most spectacular urban projects. But history holds examples of other cities built from scratch. We take a look at six spectacular city-builds around the world.

Canberra
Australia
Founded: 1913

Canberra was the solution to the rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne, Australia’s two largest cities. Construction of the capital began in 1913 but it took until 1927 before the Commonwealth parliament moved to Canberra. The design of the city was made by husband-and-wife-team Walter Burley and Marion Mahony Griffin. The capital is made out of geometric shapes adjusted to the landscape. Despite its high standard of living, the city is little known overseas and plays a low-key role even within Australia.

City view of Canberra in Australia
Canberra in Australia

Brasilia
Brazil
Founded: 1960

Brazil’s modernist utopia is arguably the most famous planned city in the world. It is certainly one of the most successful in the simple terms of population statistics. 2.5 million inhabitants live in the city that was founded 1960. It is distinguished by its modern architecture, chiefly designed by Oscar Niemeyer, and it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.

The Cathedral of Brasilia
The Cathedral of Brasilia, Brazil

Chandigarh
India
Founded: 1947

If any city can compete with Brasilia’s modernist credentials, it is Chandigarh. It was founded in 1947, after the division of British India when India and Pakistan became two separate dominions. Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier created the masterplan. Today, Chandigarh is one of the wealthiest cities in India, with a quality of life that is second to none in the country. The city’s framing against the mountains, green space and hierarchical road planning make use of the natural geography of the site.

Islamabad
Pakistan
Founded: 1947

Also founded as part of the legacy of the 1947 partition, Pakistan’s capital of Islamabad was built from a desire to balance development across the country and move government further from the easily attacked coast. Constantinos Doxiadis created the masterplan and the city was built on the idea that urban areas should be scientifically created. The capital today houses 2.2 million in the metropolitan area.

City view of Islamabad in Pakistan
Islamabad in Pakistan

Naypyidaw
Myanmar
Founded: 2005

The capital of Myanmar was moved from Yangon to the center of the country in 2005. The government of Myanmar claimed to create a new capital in response to the overcrowding of the former capital. Naypyidaw spreads out over a staggering 2,700 square miles, about four times the size of London. The city features a 20-lane avenue, a parliament complex of 31 buildings and the Uppatasanti Pagoda, a replica of Yangon’s famous Shwedagon Pagoda.

Uppatasanti Pagoda, a replica of Yangon’s famous Shwedagon Pagoda
Uppatasanti Pagoda, a replica of Yangon’s famous Shwedagon Pagoda

Nur-Sultan (Astana)
Kazakhstan
Founded: 1997

Founded as a Russian settlement in 1830, the Kazakh capital was moved here in 1997. A whole new governing district of nearly 80 square miles was constructed at the time. The urban plan for Nur-Sultan was drawn up by Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa, and the city is known for its futuristic buildings. Among them a shopping center in the shape of an enormous silver tent, a 77 meters high glass pyramid and a concert hall by the Italian architect Manfredi Nicoletti. Nursultan was previously named Astana. The city changed name in 2019, as a tribute to the former president Nursultan Nazarbajev.

City view of Astana in Kazakhstan
Nur-Sultan in Kazakhstan

Sources: Arch Daily, Reuters

From previous episodes of The Megaproject Listning:
Nueva Santa Cruz
Bolivia

Cairo is the most spectacular project. But Egypt is not the only place in the world where new cities are being built from scratch. Take a look at how Latin America’s boomtown Santa Cruz is doubling up.

Egypt’s new wonder

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